Key Message Four

Urgent changes are needed to support timely access to speech and language therapy for those who need it.

Mainstream services must support the early identification of speech, language and communication difficulties, and ensure timely access to specialist services that are sustained in proportion to need.

With more coherent planning and sharing of resources across traditional boundaries like health, social care and education, speech and language therapists will be able to organise seamless programmes of care for people who need support with their communication and swallowing. Health and social care trusts, acute trusts, local authorities, schools and probation services must work more closely together to provide access to speech and language therapy, regardless of when and where people seek support.

Responsible agencies must maintain better data on the speech and language and communication needs of their populations. Services should be planned in line with these needs and structured in response to the emerging and established evidence and guidance on what works best.